Friday, April 20, 2012

Infinite Kung Fu

Kung fu was a huge fad in the 1970s in the US, playing out in music, movies, and television. Infinite Kung Fu is a love letter written to that genre of movie in particular, with many extra features added to make the story pop even more. The main character is Lei Kung, a soldier who sets off on his own path to learn kung fu and achieve enlightenment. He finds himself in a world where an evil emperor is trying to resurrect himself from the dead with the help of turncoat armies and a legion of zombie/corpse warriors. Of course, Lei Kung must do everything he can to keep these evil forces at bay. Along the way he meets comrades in arms, such as Moog Joogular, who looks like he came off the set of Black Belt Jones and can detach his limbs and use them as weapons. Additionally, the cast of characters includes 8 Immortals who look over the proceedings and their students, 5 of whom have been corrupted by learning "poison kung fu," a potent and manipulative brand of fighting.

With impressive action sequences, interesting characters, and a huge reverence for the material, Kagan McLeod has created a majestic, fun, and suspenseful story worthy of being called an epic. He began self-publishing this story as individual comic books in 2000 and after seven issues, he hooked up with publisher Top Shelf to put out this collected edition that has 200 added pages. McLeod began his career as a staff artist for Canada’s National Post newspaper and today he remains an in demand magazine illustrator. He speaks more about his work on this book in this interview with John Hogan at the Graphic Novel Reporter.

Infinite Kung Fu is a large and beautifully rendered book that has garnered much praise. It appeared on numerous best of lists as well as a selection for YALSA's Top 10 Great Graphic Novels for Teens. It should come as no surpirse then to see it has also been very well reviewed. CBR's Chad Nevett wrote that "Infinite Kung-Fu is so entertaining and big and just plain fun to read that its large scope never drags it down. It’s like the best kung-fu movie you’ve ever seen, unimpaired by time or budget constraints, willing to take everything about kung-fu that everyone loves and throw it all together." Patrick Godfrey called it "a fully realized genre mash-up page-turner overspilling with creativity." A collection of the positive press this book has garnered can be found here.

There is a treasure trove of information, samples, extras, and links at the book's official page. A lengthy (250 pages!) preview and more is also available from the book's publisher Top Shelf.

On a side note, this is the very first graphic novel I read on my Kindle Fire using the Comixology app. I enjoyed the book very much, and I got used to the scrolling/navigation relatively quickly. On the plus side, I could zoom in on images and see the well rendered art done large. On the minus side, sometimes the pages, especially the spreads, appeared too small and had to be re-sized, which made for a slightly clunky reading experience.

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